Choosing Your Midwife

Midwives are qualified and educated to care for women throughout normal pregnancy, birth and the postnatal / newborn period. Finding the best midwife for your needs can be a challenging task, but it’s one of the most important decisions a family will make when they decide to work with a midwife.

The midwife’s knowledge, skill and experience are key to a safe and satisfying pregnancy and birth experience. When engaging the services of a private midwife, most people will make contact by phone call or email, and then arrange for an initial consultation. At the consultation, the midwife and family interview each other to explore whether the relationship feels right for them and meets their needs. Midwives will ask about the woman’s health history, her care needs, her previous birth experiences, her attitudes and beliefs about birth and her expectations of her midwife.

What sorts of questions can women ask their midwife? Well, there are lots of questions you could ask and I’ve included some below.

Be sure to ask about qualifications and experience, including whether your midwife is an eligible midwife. You are able to claim medicare benefits if your eligible midwife has a collaborative arrangement and is able to access obstetric care for you if it becomes necessary. If you are told, “I have three years of experience” ask where that experience was obtained – in a hospital? Private practice? If in private practice, how many births does she attend a year? 2? 20? Generally for private practice, the more experience that is gained, the better: when a midwife works in private practice, she works alone and needs a good level of skill, experience and judgment to practice safely. Experience is always the best teacher.

Ask your midwife about her relationships with hospitals and doctors. This will provide insight into your midwife’s ability to negotiate and communicate.

Many women ask for references and testimonials but this can be tricky as registered health practitioners are forbidden from displaying testimonials on websites. You can ask your midwife if she has any former clients who would be prepared to speak with you, but be mindful of confidentiality and women's rights to privacy.  What your midwife can do, is to provide a summary of the feedback that she has received from her clients. This will tell you that your midwife is engaged in quality assurance processes and would also provide a way of reading feedback from previous clients.

Ask your midwife what her service includes and does not include. Also ask about fees, back-up arrangements and obstetric back-up arrangements.

Finally, it’s really important that you feel comfortable with your midwife and that you feel that you trust her. Reliability is important, as is trust, respect and honesty.

Visit my website to learn more about private midwifery care.